The Diseased Ship: Uncovering Cape Cod’s Connections to the Slave Trade

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Date(s) - July 20, 2018
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Cape Cod Museum of Natural History


The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster presents “The Diseased Ship: Uncovering Cape Cod’s Connections to the Slave Trade” with Meadow Hilley Friday, July 20, 2018 at 1pm.

When Brewster sea captain Elijah Cobb sailed the Ten Brothers into Boston Harbor on July 1819, he completed the last leg of a triangular journey that had taken him and his crew from New England to West Africa to the West Indies and home again over the course of ten trying months. In the ship’s hold, authorities found nothing but ballast and a few putrid ears of corn. What escaped their attention was the “subtle poison imported in her from the sickly climes of Africa,” as it was later described in a report published by the Board of Health. Within days of docking at the wharf, the ship’s “malignant disorders” had been unleashed on a stricken population and Boston found itself in the throes of a public health crisis—one that, after reaching pandemic proportions, was effectively suppressed from our collective memory.

Drawing on local archival sources and a growing body of scholarly research on the region’s participation in the Atlantic slave economy, Meadow Hilley considers the Ten Brothers incident within the broader context of Cape Cod’s commerce with Africa and the West Indies over the centuries.

Brewster native Meadow Hilley received her Ph.D. from Brown University’s Department of French Studies with a specialization in Francophone African Literature and Film. She taught at Colby College from 2005–2008 and is currently editor of The International Educator newspaper.

Free with Museum Admission

For more information please call the Museum at 508-896-3867 ext. 133

The Diseased Ship: Uncovering Cape Cod’s Connections to the Slave Trade
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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